PACE Students Find Community in Friendship Games

In preparation for the Friendship Games, about 30 students gathered in the quad for a practice round of “alpine”, where they were separated into teams of four and attempted to make their way across the lawn attached to a pair of skis.

These students are members of the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor club gearing up for the annual Friendship Games competition that will take place  Oct. 22 at CSU Fullerton. Pilipino American student organization members from more than 40 schools all over California, Nevada and Arizona will be participating in the games.

The games consist of three parts: a mini Olympics consisting of “very intense picnic games,” according to SF State’s team director JC Agcaoili, as well as spirit pride unity friendship –– a kind of dancing, singing, cheer battle –– and finally, roll call which is a choreographed team dance.

While the goal of Friendship Games practice is to prepare for competition, the goal is also to do what the name suggests: create friendships and school spirit on campus.

“Coming from SoCal, I didn’t see much school spirit, it’s kind of hidden. You have to seek it out,” said Friendship Games choreographer Rebekah Kircher.

Roma Barrera, a business major, has found some of her closest friends through the games.

“The games are really fun to play. It got me out of my comfort zone because I was a really shy person, and I really liked how it’s a place where I can just be myself,” Barrera said. “I met my current roommate through Friendship Games.”

The Friendship Games is a division of SF State’s PACE organization on campus. While PACE does not require dues, they do require a minimum attendance at one PACE meeting and one PACE event to be considered a member.

“It’s an organization that’s rooted in the Pilipino community and learning about Pilipino history and people’s heritage and background,” said Friendship Games choreographer Darren Garza. “But you don’t have to be Pilipino to join.”

While the games offer an opportunity for students from different schools to meet one another, it’s still a competition.

“We are super strong about our games legacy because we have won several times in the past, and we want to continue to win,” Agcaoili said. “Other schools do look out for us because they know we’re out for blood when we’re there.”

Agcaoili is looking forward to the upcoming competition but is enjoying making new friends and building up team spirit in the meantime.

“I think giving kids an outlet within school, they’re more proud of their school. They don’t come here just to go to class. They come here because they feel like they have a place here,” Agcaoili said.

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